Branding, Identity & Logo Design Explained

Your company brand is not your logo, and neither is it your identity. To create a image for your business or product three things are required; logo design, identity design and branding- all of which have different roles.
There has been plenty of discussion about these three different terms, and while it may be true that they are not the same thing, we have seen no clarification on the differences between them. To rectify this we have listed what is mostly common explained as, and the easiest for people to wrap their heads around.

What is brand? – The perceived emotional corporate image as a whole.

What is identity? – The visual aspects that form part of the overall brand.

What is a logo? – A logo identifies a business in its simplest form via the use of a mark or icon.

Let’s start at the top and go into further detail:

What is branding?













This is not a light topic at all, with several whole publications and hundreds of books having been written on the subject. However to put it simply, a brand could be described as an organisation, service or product that has a sense of personality that has been shaped by how your customers perceive the product. In saying this, a designer cannot ‘make’ a brand, the audience and customers are the only ones able to do so. S designer can however build and form the foundation of the brand and how they would like it to be perceived.

Brands are believed to only consist of a few elements- colours, fonts, possibly music, a logo and slogan. An actual brand is much more complicated than that. A brand should be seen as a corporate image.

The foundation idea and concept core of having a good ‘corporate’ image’ should reflect everything the company does, anything and everything that it owns, and it’s products that at produced. These should all strive to reflect the aims and value of the business and company as a whole.

Consistency of this core idea that creates a company, constantly moving it forward, what it stands for, what they believe in and why the company exits. A brand is not as simple as colour, typefaces, a logo and slogan.

To get a better understanding of this concept lets look at a major IT company- Apple. As a company Apple exudes a humanistic corporate culture with strong corporate ethics, both of which are characterised with volunteerism, the support of good causes & and involving with the community around them. The values and beliefs of this company are proven through everything that they do, from their products that innovate and simplify their consumers lives and the advertising of these products, right to the follow through of their customer service. Apple connects with their consumers through their emotionally humanistic brand, because of this when people buy and use their products they feel a part of the company, and form a tribe together. This emotional connection is what creates their brand- not just their products and bit size logo.

For a more thorough understanding of this concept and in simpler terms, I recommend Wally Olin’s: The Brand Handbook which I quote is “an essential, easy-reference guide to brilliant branding”.

What is identity design?














A major role for the brand or corporate image for a company is to establish their identity.

Identity design is based around the visual devices of a company. that are usually assembled within set guidelines. These guidelines that create the identity, usually also involve how it will be administered and applied throughout different types of mediums- usually by using approved colour palettes, different fonts, various layouts. a mixture of measurements, and other finer details. The guidelines ensure that the identity for the company is coherent, which allows for the brand to recognised as a whole.

The identity or ‘image’ of a company is made up of many visual devices:

  • A Logo (The symbol of the entire identity & brand)
  • Stationery (Letterhead + business card + envelopes, etc.)
  • Marketing Collateral (Flyers, brochures, books, websites, etc.)
  • Products & Packaging (Products sold and the packaging in which they come in)
  • Apparel Design (Tangible clothing items that are worn by employees)
  • Signage (Interior & exterior design)
  • Messages & Actions (Messages conveyed via indirect or direct modes of communication)
  • Other Communication (Audio, smell, touch, etc.)
  • Anything visual that represents the business.

These devices make up the company identity and should support the brand completely. However, the logo is the corporate identity and the company brand all missed together to create an identifiable mark. This then becomes the avatar and symbol for the company.

What is a logo?














In order to understand what a logo is, we first have to understand what it is used for.

The logo is used for… identification.

The logo identifies a company, and their products, by a mark, flag, symbol or signature. The logo does not sell the product or company, and it rarely describes the business. A logo Is derived from the calibre of the thing it symbolises, and not the other way around- logos are to identify, not to explain. Quite simply, what a logo means is of higher importance that what it looks like.

To put this concept into practice- let’s think of logos as people. As people we prefer to be called by our names- rather than by a confusing and forgettable and often changing description of ourselves. The same goes for logos- it should not describe what the business does, but identify the business in a recognisable way that is always memorable.

It is only after a logo becomes familiar, that it starts to function in the way it is intended to do- like how we use people’s names to identify them.

The logo identifies a business or product in its simplest form.


Brand –The perceived emotional corporate image as a whole.
Identity – The visual aspects that form part of the overall brand.
Logo Identifies a business in its simplest form via the use of a mark or icon.

How would you summarise brand, identity and logo design? Comments and thoughts are welcome, as always.